Book review – Fish by Stephen Lundin, Harry paul and John Christensen


Previously I reviewed the book One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson which is a management book with some key management principles explained through a story. Fish! is another book written in exactly the same story format. In fact Kenneth Blanchard wrote the foreword to this book. This book also deals with some key leadership and management principles, but that of motivating teams to perform and what makes it a great book to read is the simplicity with which the book is written, it’s captivating story and how short it is. The book is just 110 pages of reading content and that includes a real life story of applying the Fish! principles.

So what really is this book about? Mary Jane Ramirez is a mother of two children who recently lost her husband. She works in a department nicknamed the ‘toxic energy dump’ by the other people in the company because of how demotivated the team members of the department are. Mary Jane has been told to turn her team around or risk losing her job. She is thinking hard about the possibility of turning the team around when she comes across the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle after taking a wrong turn during her lunch break at work. She observes how motivated the guys selling fish are, considering that selling fish is not the most glamorous or exciting job in the world. She gets to know one of the guys in the fish market called, Lonnie, whom she tells about her situation at work.

Lonnie offers to help her using the principles of the fish market and gives her the four principles which were used to make the fish place an exciting place to work. She applies the principles to her department and successfully makes her team a more motivated one. The four principles that Mary Jane learnt from Lonnie are:

  1. Choose your attitude: There is always a choice about the way you do your work even if there is not a choice about the work itself.
  2. Play: Create an environment of fun while working. If people can have fun selling fish then almost everyone can create fun in their work.
  3. Make their day: Involve the people, especially your customers in the fun environment too. Help them to enjoy interacting with you.
  4. Be there: Fully engage with the people you work with. Give them full attention.

Mary Jane worked hard to understand these four principles and found a way to apply them to her workplace. There is a fairy tale ending to the story, Lonnie and Mary Jane get married.

The significance of this book is that the writers, Lundin, Paul and Christensen believe that we can implement the Fish! principles in our own teams too, and it does not necessarily have to be a work team. It can be a family or even a volunteer group. If you want to make a team more motivated or responsive the Fish! principles might just help.

Book Review – The One Minute Manager by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson

Picture1The One Minute Manager is a classic leadership and management book that distills three key management skills in the form of a short story. Written by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, the original version of the book was written in the year 2000 and has been updated since then. This is a book that can be read in one seating and is very easy to understand. The story is centred around a young manager who meets up with the One Minute Manager to learn what makes him a good manager. Throughout the book, the young manager not only discusses with the one minute manager, but also meets with some of his direct reports to learn from them how the one minute manager operates. Three key skills are discussed in the book and these are referred to as the secrets for one minute management. They are:

  1. One minute goals: setting goals that can be read in one minute. These goals must not cover more than one side of an A4 sheet and must have 250 words or less.
  2. One minute praisings: This is about catching people doing things right and immediately  praising them for what they did.
  3. One minute reprimands: This is about correcting people immediately you notice that they have done something wrong.

This is a book that tries to summarise some of the most important skills of leadership and management into three techniques using an engaging story. If you’ve read this book before, read it again. If you haven’t read it before then you need to read it. Though it’s quite old, it’s a refreshing read when compared to all the complex management books currently being written. Management and leadership should be explained in a simple way and this book succeeds at doing that.


Book Review – How To Do Motivational Interviewing by Bill Matulich

How to do MIMotivational Interviewing is not a phrase many people would have heard of, except you work in some form of health care role. Motivational interviewing or MI is an effective, evidence -based counselling approach applicable to a wide wide range of psychological, behavioral and physical health issues. For example a medical doctor might use it as an approach to support a person whom they feel should stop smoking or change their eating habits because they’ve been diagnosed with diabetes. How to do Motivational Interviewing by Bill Matulich is a short eBook which attempts to explain MI is plain language, that is easy to understand and in my opinion Matulich succeeds in doing just that. Continue reading

Three Lessons From Delivering Happiness

Previously I wrote a book review on Tony Hsieh’s Delivering happiness which I believe is a brilliant book. You can read that review here. There are three key lessons that I learnt from the book which are:

  1. How to strengthen your culture with a book: Zappos have a culture book which contains information about the company’s culture from all the employees. This book helps to communicate the Zappos culture and it is a demonstration of how staff can be engaged to create something crucial to the comapany.
  2. Using a focus to differentiate your company: This second lesson is about how Zappos used it’s focus on great customer service to differentiate the company and create a comparative advantage for itself. In a business landscape where companies are constantly copying each other, having a USP which differentiates your organisation is a business winner.
  3. The importance of being transparent: This last lesson focuses on something which lots of organisations struggle with, transparency. Through certain actions Zappos has been able to create a business environment which promotes open and honest communication.

If you want to know more about what I learnt from these three lessons then you can get the learnabyte I wrote, which contains a mini-summary of the book and a group session for teaching others about these three lessons here.

My Latest Challenge – Summarising Quick Lessons From Books I read

This blog is all about reviewing great developmental books, but while it’s good to read books, the problem I have is that I forget most of what I’ve read from a book some time after I’ve read it. While I don’t expect to remember everything I read in a book, I want to at least remember some lessons which I can find a way of applying. That’s why I have set myself the challenge of summarising and documenting a couple of lessons from each book I read in so that I can go back to review the lessons if necessary. But I don’t just want to keep the lessons to myself, I want other people to be able to learn these lessons too. As a result I have started writing mini-book summaries and group sessions from the books I review on this site. The mini-book summarise will have up to three lessons for reading, while the group sessions will allow a person to teach a group of people the lessons summarised from each book. I call these resources learnabytes and my first learnabyte is from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. You can see it here.